I don’t believe in first impressions
For just this once I hope that looks don’t deceive
I ain’t got time for true confessions
I’ve got to make the move right now
Got to meet that girl somehow
Get it right the first time
That’s the main thing
I can’t afford to let it pass
You get it right the next time that’s not the same thing
Gonna make the first time last.
Billy Joel’s, The Stranger Album 1977, “Get it Right”
We all remember the moment when we did something for the first time.
Riding a bike for the first time, playing soccer for the first time, the first date, the first kiss, the first trip abroad etc. etc. How naive we were and how open we were to experiencing new things that simply felt right.
For me, professionally in my venture capital career, I vividly remember my first investment. My first venture capital deal was done in December 2011, almost a decade ago. The name of the company was — HomeLight, the founder was Drew Uher and the introduction was made by my best friend Dror Berman who was also getting started in the venture capital industry but had the winning mindset of collaborating with friends early on in his career.
It has taken me three more years, and a dozen more deals until I felt comfortable that the thesis I have developed for Group 11 early in the decade can hold water and turn a profit. At that time the term FinTech was not even coined and being a FinTech specialist vs. a generalist fund manager, who also happens to be a single General Partner was considered an anomaly and insanely risky which may explain why it has taken me two years (!!) to raise 41.3mm for Fund II (now nearing 10X) and almost 18 months to raise 51mm for Fund III (now nearing 6X).
Jeff Bezos’s famous quote “Outsized returns do come from betting against conventional wisdom and conventional wisdom is often right” really encapsulates Group 11’s fundraising story in its early days.
Anyhow — When I invested in HomeLight’s Seed round at a very low single digit valuation I had great conviction in Drew Uher’s ability to realize on his huge vision to re-imagine residential real estate transactions turning the most important financial transaction one family can have from a broken, error-prone layered process into a satisfying, seamless, automated and mobile-friendly process for all parties involved — Buyers, Sellers and Brokers alike.
Of course I was very naive buying into such a huge vision but remaining naive continues to serve me and my team to this very day.
Fast forward, a decade has gone by, and today HomeLight has announced the completion of a $363M Series D financing round (equity and debt) inducting the company into the Unicorn club at a $1.6B valuation. HomeLight joins Group 11’s growing stable of (now) seven unicorns.
Group 11 remains the 3rd largest investor in the company having invested in every financing round since inception to this very day, and I have been sitting on the company’s board for many years now.
We have continuously added value to HomeLight including, but not limited to, introducing them to other investors including my dear friend and mentor Oren Zeev who led the company’s Series A in 2015 and is also leading this Series D, a further illustration of existing investors’ conviction in HomeLight’s business model, product-market fit and leadership.
A decade has gone by but some things remain the same -
HomeLight continues to grow rapidly and is only stretching the surface of its potential,
FinTech has continued to grow to the extent it has now become “a thing”. The hottest category in tech. Consequently. The FinTech revolution is well underway.
Lastly and most importantly — Every investment I make still FEELS as if it is the first time.
The same naive excitement, the same vibration that is felt in the room when the founder/s speak, the same infinite potential that can often be seen so clearly are all still here, accompanying our now decade-old-battle-tested investment thesis while opportunities of a brand new decade await to be uncovered. For the first time.